by Delia (contributing writer)
The life of a parent with a child with ADD can be very challenging. Let’s make this more challenging by adding the alphabet soup of diagnoses that I have and that just compound the problems. Let’s start with just the fact that I have ADD myself. Can we talk about the blind leading the blind here? I can barely manage and cope with some of my own symptoms and I am supposed to be teaching and training this tiny little person to manage and cope with her own. Sometimes I feel so incredibly overwhelmed by my own brain that I can’t even start to deal with the mini-crisis that is invading my daughter’s world today. How am I supposed to listen to and help my child with her problems today when every noise that she makes, including her voice, is an assault on my sense of hearing? I snap at her about being quiet.
I am in sensory overload. I can’t stand the volume of my thoughts, let alone the volume of her voice. I am not saying that I hear voices, but someone who truly has ADD, not the myriad of people who are getting over-diagnosed, knows what that feeling is like. When the thoughts in your head are running so very quickly that at times it is like your own brain is shouting at you, it is difficult to tolerate external sound. I have times where I sit in my house once my daughter has gone to bed and just turn everything off and have silence.
The unfortunate thing is that being ADD, I can never have true silence. I noticed everything: the hum of the refrigerator, the noise the furnace makes when it kicks on, the sound of the wind against the house, the rustling of the guinea pig in his cage. Anyone who has suffered with this aspect of ADD knows that your brain never shuts off; it is always on high alert. I think that is why there is a higher prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among those with ADD/ADHD. Many may be trying to numb themselves (shut off the brain), others may be trying to self-medicate (because of difficulty sleeping), and still others may have other reasons.
I want you to know that it is OK to feel like this. I guarantee there are other parents out there going through the same thing. It is not that we don’t love our children. There are just times where our own idiosyncrasies make it difficult to be a parent. We doubt ourselves all the time, second-guessing every decision. We may snap at our kids- particularly when we are in sensory overload, but it is OK. As long as you are open with your kids, they start to understand it; they don’t take it to heart. I have had a conversation with my daughter about sometimes mommy loses her temper and it has to do with mommy and not with you.
I do know why God gave me this lovely little girl though. I am the one person who can understand everything that she is going through. Had she been born to parents without experience with ADD, she would have grown up very different. She probably would not have gotten help so early. She would not have such strong advocates in her corner. I know what she is feeling and what I would have liked to help make things easier on me. I can fight for her the way I wish my parents would have fought for me.